Thursday, March 8, 2012


In Regina, I have to settle for  Pacific Fresh Fish which,
considering that they are about 7700 km from 
Barcelona, is pretty good.
I do like Spanish food. I make a mean Paella and a couple of other Spanish dishes but what I need to do now is to go to Spain, do some research even if I do put on a few pounds doing it.
I made this the other night and it was great.
Zarzuela takes it's name from the Spanish word for a type of musical theatre or operetta because of the wild variety which makes it up.   
It is sort of Spain's answer to bouillabaisse.
You can use all kinds of seafood so feel free to mix and match. 
It is simple but concise. Outside of the seafood, don't mess with the process too much and it will turn out very well.


A large pinch of saffron threads
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, orange) seeded then chopped into small pieces
1 500 ml can of chopped tomatoes (I use the ones mixed with garlic and olive oil)
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1 1/2 cup fish stock. (In a pinch you could use chicken stock)
1 cup blanched almonds toasted, then finely ground
Salt and pepper
1 dozen mussels
1 dozen clams
1 lb white-fish (cod, haddock or some other) cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 dozen large raw shrimp
3 small squid cut unto small pieces
1 dozen bay scallops
1 loaf of crusty bread (For those in Regina I recommend Orange Boot Bakery)

Put the saffron is a small bowl and add a few Tbsp of boiling water. Let it sit.

Take a large pan with high sides and turn the heat up to medium high. Add a good glug of olive oil the put in the onions and reduce the heat to medium and when they are translucent, careful not to burn them, add the garlic, thyme, peppers and the bay leaves. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Until the red peppers are soft.

Meanwhile which put 3/4 of the tomatoes in a blender and purée them.

Add the tomatoes, the paprika and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Add the fish stock and the saffron then the almonds to the pot and bring it to a boil stirring often.

Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.

Stir in the white-fish then add all the other seafood.

Cover the pot and let it simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.

Check to make sure the seafood is cooked.

Throw away any of the shellfish that didn't open.

Serve with lots of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

You could serve a salad or a plate of olives on the side.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spinach Quiche

Quiche is much and unfairly maligned. Real mean don't eat it etcetera, blah, blah, blah. 
I think I ate quite a bit of bad quiche and I confess I went off it for a while but I had never cooked it so, decided recently to give it another try. 
It turned out to be a case of, "If you want it done right do it yourself."

First, I don't do pastry so I bought pre-made pie crust. You could make the dish right in the pan the crusts come in but, I had a lovely ceramic quiche dish in the cupboard, so I used that.  The pastry stuck so I went out and bought a couple of non stick quiche pans after that.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the empty pie shell for 10 or 15 minutes - just so it starts to brown.

Take it out of the oven

So let's get right to the filling


1 cup grated swiss cheese
3/4 cup of cooked, drained and chopped spinach
6 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled
4 or 5 eggs
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix up the first three ingredients and spread them evenly onto the pie shell

Mix up the rest of the ingredients and carefully pour them over the filling ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centre come out clean.

When it is done take it out and let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting it into serving pieces.

Quiche is as flexible as pizza.  The combinations are endless. Mix and match ingredients and try different cheeses.

Merguez Sausage with Fennel & Couscous

I don't that often see merguez sausage so, when there they were in a cheese store this week, I picked up half a dozen. This couscous dish, while it may not be authentic, is tasty
Lots of room to improvise here so be creative.

·        1 or 2 tablespoon olive oil
·        1 teaspoon cumin seeds
·        2 bay leaves
·        2 large diced shallots
·        1 teaspoon dried oregano
·        8½ ounces Merguez sausage, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
·        1 fresh fennel bulb finely chopped (discarding green stalky tops)
·        ½ teaspoon harissa paste, or cayenne pepper or sambal sauce
·        2 cups chicken stock, heated
·        ½ cup yellow raisins
·        ½ cup chopped fresh dill, less if using dried
·        1 cup couscous

Heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves; stir, and then add the shallots. Stir-fry for 2 minutes and add the oregano. Stir for a minute
Then add the sausage and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes on medium-high heat, they should be well browned..
Add the fennel and harissa. Stir and fry for an additional 2 minutes, add the stock. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the raisins and chopped dill and stir.
 Pour in the couscous, stir well, and turn off the heat.
Cover the pot immediately and let the dish steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
 Fluff the couscous and serve.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rabbit with Olives

This is a recipe adapted from one of my brother's.
We had it with some nice red wine on a cold Montreal evening in February.

1 rabbit cut into medium sized pieces (boned if you have the patience)
1 glug of olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic chopped
about 15 assorted olives sliced
1 cup of carrots sliced into rounds
1 cup mushrooms
2 bay leaves
salt  &  pepper
1 cup red wine (you can substitute white wine)
1 cup chicken stock

Heat olive oil in a large skillet
Add  onions and olives and cook until the onion is translucent
Add the rabbit, the garlic and the spices
When the rabbit has browned pour in the wine and the stock, you can use a bit more than the recipe calls for depending on the size of the rabbit
Add the carrots and mushrooms
Bring it to a boil then, after about 5 minutes reduce the heat to a simmer,
Simmer it all for 50 minutes or so. A bit longer if you like. Until the meat is very temder
Near the end use a small bit of flour and water to thicken
serve over rice or pasta

*I found that the rabbits in Western Canada tend to be a bit largee that those I saw in Montreal's Atwater Market or in the Byward Market in Ottawa so be flexible.

* A large rabbit will serve six

* if you don't have rabbit, you can substitute chicken

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Photo credit: Shelley Banks
Paella is originally from Valencia, where it is often eaten as a Sunday meal. There are many variations of it with different ingredients.
The name paella is the word for “frying pan” in Valencian. However, the dish has
become so popular in Spain that the word paellera is now usually used for the pan
and paella almost exclusively for the dish.

I love this dish. It is tasty, hearty and easy to make. If you don’t have a paellera try using a wok or a large deep skillet.

I like mine to have a variety of ingredients but, you could easily make it into
seafood dish or leave out the seafood and use chicken or rabbit. Don't go overboard and put too much of a variety in however. It could turn into what has been called " pointless baroque exhibitionism."

The Spanish love the crusty toasted rice buildup from the bottom of the pan
called socarrat so, if you are having a Spaniard for supper, when it is pretty
much done, turn up the heat until you smell the rice beginning to toast. Try very

hard not to burn the bottom.

600 grams chicken thighs or legs
Salt &  pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 red pepper, chopped in small pieces (Morgan would say leave these out)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
6 cups chicken or fish stock
1 tsp oragano
2 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups, short grain rice
2 links of Chorizo Sausage fresh or dried, cut into bite sized pieces
12 to 18 large raw peeled shrimp
12 mussels or 12 clams
a few small squid
1 cup frozen peas

Heat a swirl of oil in the pan and brown the chicken pieces well then remove from the pan and set aside. (If you are using fresh sausage brown it separately and set it aside as well)
Drain off all but a bit of the oil and add the onion and garlic and cook them until they are soft. Stir in the rice and the red pepper and spices, stir well for a minute or so then add the tomatoes.
Meanwhile dissolve the saffron in the stock and add 2 cups to the rice mixture. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium high. Return the chicken to the pan and it is now time to add the sausage, what ever kind you are using. Cook uncovered 20 minutes stirring occasionally adding more stock as it begins to
dissolve. Don’t stir it as you would a risotto. It only needs an occasional mixing.
Stir in the shrimp, peas and shellfish and add the rest of the stock.
If the rice mixture gets too dry during this process you might add a bit more stock or water. You don’t want it to dry out and burn.
Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until most of the moisture is absorbed, the shrimp are opaque and the shellfish have opened. Discard any that have not.


The last time I made this dish I had bought some frozen squid but, they were in a solid block and it became impossible to thaw the few of them I needed. I had to thaw the whole damn block so...I simply cut off and used all the heads and tentacles and threw away the rest. It least one of my guests was a bit put off by the squid tentacles sticking up and out of the rice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chicken and Leeks with Penne, for two

I grew leeks for the first time this year and although they were a bit slow to get started they were ready by September for a good meal or two.
This is a very simple dish to make and it turned out very well.

2 chicken legs
2 cups chicken stock
 1 1/2 cups leeks cut into small rounds
1/2 cup pancetta
Penne, enough for two
Salt and pepper to taste

If the legs have the backs attached cut them off and set them aside for the next time you make stock.
Cut the pancetta into 1/4 inch cubes and fry until crispish, and set aside..
Heat the chicken stock.
Put 2/3 of the leeks on the bottom of an oven proof earthenware dish, add the cooked pancetta then place the chicken legs on top. Pour the stock over the chicken until it is not quite covered. Add the rest of the leeks.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and put into a 450 degree oven for 35 or 40 minutes.
If the dish doesn't have a cover, just use aluminum foil.
At about the 30 minutes mark, put the penne into boiling salted water,
When it is done drain and toss with butter.
Put the penne in a pasta bowl.
Take the chicken out of the oven and place a leg on top of each bowl of penne. Spoon the leeks over top of the penne and chicken then add a bit of the chicken stock to the penne and serve.
Simple and scrumptious.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Smoked Picnic Ham with Guinness

It had been some time since we'd cook a ham so I picked up a Smoked Picnic Ham the other day for under $8.00. I thought, for that price how could I go wrong. 
I didn't want to cook it an a very sweet sauce to I improvised. 
It was very good.

1 smoked picnic ham shoulder
1 large onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 can Guinness
2 or 3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp each of Rosemary, thyme and oregano
1 good pinch black pepper
1/2 a cup maple syrup

Heat the oven to 350  F degrees
These hams are often wrapped in Cheesecloth. Don't forget to unwrap that cheesecloth and throw it away. It will make your life easier later on.
Scour the fat on top of the ham with a sharp knife.
In a large dutch oven or other large heavy saute the onion until  translucent, then add the garlic and the herbs
in another minute or so, add the ham
Pour in the Guinness and then the stock
Pour the maple syrup over the ham
Heat the stock on the stove until it almost boils
Cover the pot tightly, use tin foil if the pot's cover won't fit with the ham in there
Put it in the oven for 3 hours turning the ham twice and so the last hour the fat side is up.
After three hours take the pot out and remove the ham. It should be at least 160 F
Place it in a roasting pan, turn the heat up to 450 F and put it back into the oven uncovered.
Take a couple of cups of stock along with the onions etc, add a few more of the herbs and a Tbsp of Dijon mustard then either using a handheld blender or a stand alone blender blend the mixture until it is like a sauce or gravy. Put the sauce back into the pot. Reduce the ham gravy on the stove top and if needed at the end add a small amount of cornstarch to thicken.
If you prefer a sweeter flavour add some more maple syrup but I don't think you need it.
Serve it with potatoes and a vegetable
It is very good